5.29.2008

Selling your soul

It's a term you hear a lot; selling your soul.

Let's think about it for a moment.

The term could have many connotations. It is usually taken by most people to mean "Selling your immortal soul to entities of evil intent" and usually is done in exchange for worldly possessions... The old "Sell your soul to the devil" deal.

In other contexts, however, it's an incredibly apt and honest statement, such as when you trade away aspects of your artistic or creative integrity in order to make a deal happen with, say, a television or record studio. Art - true art, that is - comes from the soul of an individual. Just because someone pays you money for something you've created from your soul does not make you a sellout. You didn't sell your soul at that moment, in my opinion, because from the moment of conception to the moment of execution, the motive was pure - you wanted to create. Communicate. Evoke feeling and meaning.

You know, art.

Now, the second you enter into a creative endeavor with some entity who wants to pay you money in exchange for your being creative on their behalf, or being creative with their final say-so... That's selling your soul. You're selling your artistic ability and your creative integrity (the mere possibility that they MIGHT change something is enough to count as abandoning your integrity) for a paycheck.

There is NOTHING wrong with this. You just have to be honest about it - you've sold your soul.

And of course, saying the words "selling your soul" evokes that first connotation in your head, doesn't it? Images of a goatee'd devil sitting there with a grin and a pitchfork as you greedily sign away your immortal essence in exchange for worldly goods... It's not the same, is it?

It's not, right? I mean... Doing it just a little bit this one time doesn't mean you're in hock to Satan for eternity, right?

Of course not.

Now, the second deal... That's where you start flirting with being an empty, hollow shell of a person. Trust me, after having been through it on multiple forms of media, I can tell you that, to make a second deal with any studio for any reason, you are making a conscious decision to sell your soul. Going into a situation with something you've already made and allowing someone to tweak it to be commercially viable... Well, that's every young artist's dream. But once you start going into the process knowing what's involved, and you've decided it's okay?

Well, there's a reason most slick studio exec's sport goatees. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.